Gender and Exemplarity in Medieval and Early Modern Spain


Gender and Exemplarity in Medieval and Early Modern Spain gathers a series of studies on the interplay between gender, sanctity and exemplarity in regard to literary production in the Iberian peninsula. The first section examines how women were con¬strued as saintly examples through narratives, mostly composed by male writers; the second focuses on the use made of exemplary life-accounts by women writers in order to fashion their own social identity and their role as authors.
The volume includes studies on relevant models (Mary Magdalen, Virgin Mary, living saints), means of transmission, sponsorship and agency (reading circles, print, patronage), and female writers (Leonor López de Córdoba, Isabel de Villena, Teresa of Ávila) involved in creating textual exemplars for women.

Contributors are: Pablo Acosta-García, Andrew M. Beresford, Jimena Gamba Corradine, Ryan D. Giles, María Morrás, Lesley K. Twomey, Roa Vidal Doval, and Christopher van Ginhoven Rey.

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María Morrás, Ph.D. (1992), is Professor of Hispanic Literature at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, and Special Lecturer at Magdalen College, Oxford. Her publications include numerous critical editions and studies on medieval literature. She has edited special issues on La configuración de la santidad femenina en los siglos XVI y XVII (2015) and Santa Teresa (with R. Sanmartín, 2016).
Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida, Ph.D. (2000), is Professor of Spanish Literature at the Universidad Complutense, Madrid. She has published on Spanish visionary women, including editions of María de Santo Domingo’s Revelaciones (with María Luengo Balbás, 2014), Libro de la Oración (with María Victoria Curto Hernández, 2019), and written various monographs.
Yonsoo Kim, Ph.D. (2006), is Associate Professor of Spanish at Purdue University. She works on gender and religion in medieval and Golden Age literature, with a special interest in disability. She is the author of a monograph in this series, Between Desire and Passion: Teresa de Cartagena (2012).
"Gender and Exemplarity in Medieval and Early Modern Spain is one of those rare volumes whose coherency and superb quality across the introduction and all chapters offer a solid unified foundation and a truly innovative ground from which to reconsider an entire subfield, here specifically the study of exemplary literature and women’s religious writings in the Spanish early modern period.[...] In sum, Gender and Exemplarity in Medieval and Early Modern Spain is a stimulating, excellent collection, with each chapter challenging the reader to rethink the historical, contextual, and theoretical parameters that have up to this point been used to examine exemplarity literature for, about, or written by Spanish medieval and early modern women."
Rosilie Hernández, University of Illinois Chicago, in Renaissance Quarterly Vol. LXXVI, No. 2 (doi:10.1017/rqx.2023.277)

"Estamos ante una miscelánea de estudios sobre mujeres lectoras y escritoras de la plena Edad Media, su Otoño y el primer Humanismo, que rompe tópicos supuestamente feministas, contextualiza históricamente y analiza ideológicamente sus actitudes y formación, sus gustos y anhelos, sin los consabidos prejuicios ni concesiones de la literatura de mujeres al uso. [...] María Morrás es la encargada de firmar la introducción general (“Introduction: Saints Textual: Embodying Female Exemplarity in Spanish Literature”, pp. 1-39): un brillante artículo, como suyo, exhaustivo e impecablemente redactado, que da la rigurosa tónica de todo el volumen y que se centra en los tres conceptos que recorren las colaboraciones del volumen: género, santidad y ejemplaridad. [...] Estamos de enhorabuena ante esta excelente, y muy bien coordinada, muestra del rigor con que debe abordarse la llamada literatura de género en períodos literarios pretéritos, que sienta las bases para estudios posteriores y plantea muy interesantes cuestiones, multiseculares, sobre la recepción femenina de la literatura doctrinal, su emulación y la consiguiente creación. Bienvenido sea.
Guillermo Serés, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in eHumanista 46 (2020): 260-265

"The essays explore a family of related genres—life-writing, chronicles, exempla, and romances—that shaped cultural identities within and beyond religious communities. Advocating an elastic notion of exemplarity, [Morrás] she recommends transversal readings of the genres representing virtuous women as well as aspiring saints. [...] Collectively, the essays illuminate some of the unresolved issues […], such as the role of ascesis in spiritual life, the difficulties of association with charismatic women, and more generally, the uncertain boundaries of orthodoxy in a period of tremendous spiritual ferment."
Alison Weber, University of Virginia, in Journal of Jesuit Studies 8 (2021) 501-522

"Gender and Exemplarity successfully meets its goal ‒ to offer new perspectives on women’s spirituality and its relationship to writing. [...] All the contributions are meticulously researched and well-argued. Biographical references are complete and the editors provide a useful Index. Gender and Exemplarity is a valuable resource for scholars interested in female spirituality, women’s hagiography, early female-authored autobiographies, and theological developments in Spain from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries.
Connie L. Scarborough, Texas Tech University, in Mediaevistik 34.1 (2021): 487-90.

"To consider the tensions between how religious communities and exemplarity provided additional freedoms for women while, at the same time, placing them under increasingly close scrutiny requires subtle minds, and the collection of essays that María Morrás, Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida, and Yonsoo Kim have assembled proves itself more than up to such a nuanced task. The collection covers four centuries, as well as an array of different themes, disciplines, and critical frameworks, yet manages to prevent a cohesive insight into the larger notions of gender and exemplarity as the essays readily bolster one another. [...] the collection is a fascinating exploration of the strategies with which women asserted their own agency within medieval and early modern Christianity, as well as how the patriarchy sought to limit this agency. From tracing textual genealogies to close readings, the critics in this volume employ an impressive interdisciplinary array of strategies that makes every contribution a worthwhile, nuanced read as they draw on chronicles, legal documents, autobiographies, exempla, and other genres. [...] In sum, Gender and Exemplarity is an excellent case of what a collected volume should be, and it will appeal to any scholar of premodern Spain."
David Reher, Oklahoma State University in La Corónica, 49.3 (2021)

Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida and Yonsoo Kim
 Notes on Contributors

 Introduction: Saints Textual: embodying Female Exemplarity in Spanish Literature
María Morrás

Part 1: Rewriting Models

 1Hagiography, Corporeality, and the Gaze: sexual/Ascetic Tension in the Vida de Santa María Egipciaca
Andrew M. Beresford

 2Under Suspicion: Mary Magdalene in Late Medieval Castile, Virtuous and Illustrious?
María Morrás

 3Discernment of Spirits and Spiritual Authority: theTractatus de vita spirituali and Its Afterlife
Rosa Vidal Doval

 4Women Prophets for a New World: Angela of Foligno, “Living Saints”, and the Religious Reform Movement in Cardinal Cisneros’s Castile
Pablo Acosta-García

 5Models of Female Spirituality in Sixteenth-century Spain: Women Accused of Lutheranism
Jimena Gamba Corradine

Part 2: Inscribing Models

 6“No hay quien vele a Alonso”: Imitatio Mariae and the Problem of Conversion in Leonor López de Córdoba’s Memorias
Ryan D. Giles

 7Speaking of Heaven in Conventual Women’s Writing (Constanza de Castilla, Teresa de Cartagena, Isabel de Villena, and Teresa de Jesús)
Lesley K. Twomey

 8Torn to Pieces: textual Destruction in Teresa de Jesús’s Vida
Christopher van Ginhoven Rey

All interested on the history of female religiosity, on female literacy, and history of women in the 15th and 16th centuries, with special attention to the Iberian peninsula.
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